Leon Edwards, the rare defending UFC champion who entered the Octagon as the betting underdog on fight night, went the distance with former champ Kamaru Usman — and to the delight of his hometown crowd in London, Edwards took the judges’ decision win. However, most considered the fight to be close, with several highlight moments for the Nigerian Nightmare as well.
While Edwards successfully shut down most of Usman’s notoriously dangerous wrestling, the former champ did score about five minutes of control time. Ultimately, though, Usman was unable to deal sufficient damage on the ground, and appeared to struggle with keeping Edwards down. The victory for Edwards did seem to surprise Usman, particularly given that Edwards lost a point — and his early lead — in the third round with his second of two fouls that evening.
Prior to losing his title to Edwards at UFC 278 back in August, Usman was undefeated in the UFC — and only last suffered a loss in MMA at all way back in 2013, a full decade ago. Nevertheless, the Nigerian Nightmare handled his second loss to Edwards with grace, telling his opponent’s supporters, “Much respect, London. You’ve got yourself a great champion and a hell of a guy.”
Edwards is next slated for a title defense against Colby Covington, according to a post-fight press conference with Dana White.
LONDON ERUPTS AS LEON EDWARDS RETAINS THE WELTERWEIGHT TITLE 😱 #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/vzjvkLGNJZ— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 19, 2023
Full Main Card Results
Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman by decision
Justin Gaethje def. Rafael Fiziev by decision
Gunnar Nelson def. Bryan Barberen by submission (armbar, round one)
Jennifer Maia def. Casey O’Neill by decision
Marvin Vettori def. Roman Dolidze by decision